Why Study This Mantra...Optimism isn't a trait, it's a skill. This month, learn how to incorporate it into your life and watch what a difference it makes.
Admittedly, Hope and Optimism a tad different, but they are being used synonymously here. In this context, both words should be understood to be: the process of setting and following through on goals, seeing the good in the world, keeping alive its possibility, and trusting that it is there, even (especially) when it is hard to see.
Being optimistic is one of the most valuable skills you can develop. (Yes, it's a skill, and yes, anyone can develop it.) Besides its obvious impact on your happiness and emotional health, there are countless other benefits to being optimistic, including reduced stress, better coping skills, quicker recovery from hardships, and as a result of all of that, a more successful life.
This month you'll learn to cultivate optimism. You'll learn some practices that help you identify positive thoughts that fuel helpful and beneficial reactions. In doing so, you'll consciously choose to focus on these constructive thoughts, helping you to respond more positively and appropriately in everyday situations.
Before you begin...
Before you start these practices and challenges, take a moment to rate yourself on this mantra. Give yourself a score from 1-10 (10 being the highest).
Do this again at the end of a month of practices and challenges. How much have you grown?
Wearing my mantra today will remind me to be more mindful of my thoughts. That includes my emotional, behavioral, and physiological reactions to the day's events.
When I experience adversity, I'll minimize my perception of its:
- Permanence - How long-lasting I perceive the cause of the adversity to be.
- Pervasiveness - How wide-spread I perceive the cause of the adversity to be.
- Personalization - To what degree I perceive faults within myself as causing adversity.
I will seek factual evidence in support of my beliefs. I’ll come up with more positive alternatives. I’ll ask myself, "Is this really that bad? Is this negative belief actually useful for me right now, or can I put off dwelling on it? Is it really my fault? Ten years from now, how will I feel about this?”
First, turn to your journal and do your ABC diary, recording down (A) something bad that happened that day, (B) your belief/how you interpreted the adversity, and (C) the consequences/what feelings and actions that resulted.
Once you've spent some time with your diary, practice the skill of disputation. Use Disputation to test how real the belief is. Seek out EVIDENCE for the belief. Come up with more optimistic ALTERNATIVES to your belief. Explore its implications, and determine its usefulness.
You may wish to get a trusted friend to help you with disputation. Have them hurl negative beliefs at you (the same sorts that you subject yourself to), then use your disputation techniques to practice shooting down those beliefs.
Finally, list out your top one-to-five most dreaded work tasks, then conduct the ABCDE exercise with them. What is the Adversity, what pessimistic Beliefs do you have about them, what are the Consequences of those beliefs, how would you Dispute them, and what is your new Energization level after completing this.
For the next few days, for up to a week, keep an ABC Diary. Each evening, spend a few minutes writing down the following:
- Adversity – What was something bad that happened?
- Belief – How did you interpret it?
- Consequences – How did you feel? What were the feelings and actions that resulted?
Now that you’ve spent some time with your ABC Diary, practice disputation. Read back through each belief and select a few to dispute. This will help you reframe the beliefs in a more constructive light.
- Evidence: Seek out evidence for your belief. Is there any? Or was your belief unfounded?
- Alternatives: Come up with some alternatives to your belief that are more optimistic.
- Implications: Explore the implications of your belief. Was it really as bad as you thought? What’s really going to happen as a result of the bad event?
- Usefulness: Determine its usefulness. Is it helping you to have this belief right now? Or would you be better off without it?
More Practice... Dreaded Work Tasks
Let’s get a little more practice! List out your top one-to-five most dreaded work tasks, then conduct the ABCDE exercise with them.
- What is the Adversity?
- What pessimistic Beliefs do you have about them?
- What are the Consequences of those beliefs?
- How would you Dispute them?
- What is your new Energization level after completing this?